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Sassuolo 1-3 Juventus


A welcome result at a critical time which keeps us in the running for a top four spot with just two games remaining.

It would be madness to suggest we merited the result on clear chances created as we could have been 4-0 down after half hour, and the home side created 2 further great openings (aside from their beautiful goal scored).

We remain able to win such games due solely to our vastly superior individual talents, yet continue to show a complete shambles in central midfield and defensively.

Personally, and I seem to be becoming a little like Larch here…I was most happy to find Dybala reaching his 100th goal for the club. And also for Santo Buffon. Some say we would have fared better this season had the veteran shot stopper played more regularly, but despite his strong showing and efforts to organise, the defence still looked as it has most the campaign – shocking.

Credit to Pirlo for avoiding his beloved hybrid CM as a RM routine, and whilst Kulu is not at all a natural LM/LW or LWB, if he is given space to run into the final third he can show something of his natural talent, which for me remains very high indeed.

I do not see this as a positive nod of any meaningful value towards Pirlo. I desperately want him replaced. For we could and should have lost 6-3…yet I do see it as a hint of confirmation of my longstanding conclusion that the squad is a lot better than many have condemned.

Pirlo vs Me

“We can have a breather now and then dive headfirst into the next two games,”

No, Pirlo, we cannot have a breather. Take the squad into ritiro. Extra training, cut off from women and family and all other distractions. Get the living breathing on the unity, eat together, train together, focus on one goal alone – cohesion and shared aim. Now we are facing without any doubt the biggest game of the season. It is not the time to stop and catch breath. It is the time to up the tempo, work work work, develop hunger, with one thought alone in the player’s heads and one feeling in their hearts – Giving Everything to beat Inter.

“It wasn’t easy to get back on track after that defeat and especially against Sassuolo. We prepared it so we’d sit back, wait for Sassuolo with some very tight lines to stop them finding those spaces, then the plan was to win it back and go rapidly on the counter. Sassuolo push so many men forward, they leave gaps at the back.”

You may well have instructed the team to sit back, but it was us who left more gaps at the back and we have the hapless finishing of Sassuolo to thank for this victory, not a resolute, well organised defensive blockade.

“I used two very quick wing-backs like Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski to attack the space and we did it well. Champions in football are the ones who make the difference, and we have many of them, so tonight they made a big impact. It wasn’t easy for us to lift our heads up, but we did, we are here, we are alive and kicking and will fight to the end.”

I hope the translation is wrong, for Chiesa and Kulu are not wingbacks. Nor are they even natural wingers, they are wide forwards, you fool!. Why refuse to ever play them both (or even one) as wide forwards??? And no surprise to find that when we play with more than just one possible creative output (Juan) we become more potent i the final third…

“We are aware that our destiny is no longer in our hands, but there’s no point looking back over regrets now. There were many moments during the season when we lowered our guard and weren’t 100 per cent concentrated, perhaps thinking that just wearing the Juve jersey was enough to guarantee a victory. Unfortunately, that is not the case.”

I would say unfortunately you have muddled this squad into a shambles, but no point looking back on this now. Just pick a side with any semblance of players in roles where they can perform. Please. All I ask is to give the squad a chance to forget your tactics and strike hard for some salvage routine of one of the worst campaigns in living memory, even for those supporting the club for several decades.

“In modern football, you have to face every team with the same mentality, hunger and desire, because otherwise you won’t get far. We’ve got to get it into our heads that we must suffer, have discipline and cohesion between all the players. The rest will follow.”

You have managed to get into the heads of all the players and all the fans that we must suffer, but failed miserably on instilling any sense of discipline or cohesion.

“Too often we have made mistakes and made life difficult for ourselves with individual errors, so we need the utmost concentration in every minute and every second. On the penalty today, we gave it away so cheaply in the final third and it’s not the first time we’ve done that.”

When so many are making individual mistakes, and these players have never proven so error prone previously, it is the coaching model and tactics which is the issue. We have a midfield and defence and fullbacks who are constantly ill at ease in their roles and lacking any sense of cohesion, which again, smacks more of a complete mess of coaching. it suggests they have been coached into a damn muddle.

We now prepare for a huge derby d’italia against our most hated enemies. They have less to play for than us. Yet are in much better form, have a vastly superior coach, a system which works, players in the right roles and will be very eager indeed to dig the knife deeper into our bleeding heart…part of me ponders, rather cynically, that Conte will play the youth side, then remark after the game, with a cold stare and no humour whatsoever –

‘To keep Pirlo in a job, is very important…to our project’.

Yet that is not Conte. Anything but seeking resounding, pounding victory is beyond his ken. He has the cold stare, but he will play his strongest possible side, and we can but hope that Pirlo will not revert to type. My fear is that he has been saving McKennie…not as a marauding box to box – where we have seen him at his best – but as that hybrid RM role which ruins the side totally. Not just McKennie.

This concern is encouraged by the absence of Juan until late on to warm his boots.

It is too late into a rare Thursday night dive into the smirnoff to delve further into tactical analysis. All has been written before. And there is much abounding in the world both near and far to keep my mind overly occupied. alongside my old barely lukewarm embers husk of a heart that once beat proudly, defiantly, no matter what came through hell or high water…Such as…the US funded and protected right wing fascist government of Israel launching rubber bullets, tear grenades, beatings upon scores of palestinians praying in one of the most holy of sites during their most holy of periods…then finding the western media reporting this as ‘palestinian aggression’ for their intended response. This is akin to a crowd entering the vatican on Easter Sunday and pelting those praying with rubber bullets, gloved fists and smoke bombs…and I will do my bit to spread more balanced reportage of the horror abounding there>

Still, I will take the all too rare dose of brief happiness from Juve winning a game as a prophylactic to the woes of the world…and dream a little, that more of the same is possible this coming weekend.

Forza Juve

(follow me on twitter, at your peril, here)

Daniel P